A New Take on a Classic
The Trance has been Giant’s flagship trailbike since its creation in 2004. Over the years, the Trance has adapted to the needs of the modern trail rider, evolving from an aggressive, cross-country platform into a burly trail ripper. The last overhaul gave riders a redesigned geometry, more travel and 27.5-inch wheels.
This new, more modern version of the Trance came at just the right time. Some of our test riders have spent plenty of hours on the previous generations and were licking their riding chops to experience the 2017 Trance Advanced. After weeks of testing on our local trails, we came away with some clear opinions on how the new Trance compares to its ancestors.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Trance has sat comfortably between Giant’s cross-country race machine, the Anthem, and its longer-travel enduro rig, the Reign. For 2017, the Trance still sits comfortably in the trail category—and with a more capable platform than before. Riders who are looking for an efficient pedaling platform for long climbs but want the benefits of a longer-travel machine will find a healthy mix in the Trance.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
There are two versions of the Trance available—the higher-end carbon version and the full-aluminum version. The Advanced line uses a T-700 carbon fiber main frame with an aluminum rear triangle designed with Boost spacing. Giant uses full-internal cable routing, including stealth dropper routing and a BB92 bottom bracket shell with ISCG tabs. For 2017 the frame is now 1x-specific as well.
The Maestro suspension design got a few tweaks, with a new composite rocker designed around a Trunnion mount that uses metric-sized shocks. Giant claims this design stiffens up the whole platform, allowing them to reduce the leverage ratio. The main rocker arm was lowered about 15 millimeters to allow for longer dropper posts and to reduce the overall center of gravity. Along with the suspension platform, Giant tweaked the geometry a bit with a slightly taller head tube and lengthened the top tube for a longer reach. Along with the reach and stack heights, the Trance also has shorter chainstays. To give riders some flexibility as far as future tire upgrades, the Trance was designed to accommodate up to 2.6-inch-wide tires.
Our test bike is one step down from a top-level build with a price tag of $4950. Giant offers a frame set complete with a RockShox Super Deluxe shock for $2700. If neither of those options sounds appealing, prices start at $2100 for the full-aluminum versions that use the same technology as the higher-end builds.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Trance Advanced 1 was put together to give riders the most bang for their buck while delivering the best components possible. Our test bike came spec’d with a full Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, Giant TRX 1 composite wheels, Fox Factory suspension, and a Giant-branded stem, bars, and dropper post. The XT gave us consistent shifting and braking performance, and the Fox suspension complemented the improved Maestro platform. The attention to detail on the build is impressive, considering the 11-46 cassette and 33-millimeter internal width of the TRX 1 wheels.
HOW DOES IF PERFORM?
Moving Out: The Trance had a tall stack height compared to other bikes we have tested in this category. Our test bike came with a 70-millimeter stem with a 15-degree rise. We immediately dropped the stem all the way down until it was flush with the head tube. The bar width felt adequate to get us going, although a couple of our test riders would have preferred something slightly wider.
Suspension Setup: Giant recommends 20–25-percent sag in the rear. We started at 25 percent sag in the rear suspension and 20-percent sag in the fork. During our testing we felt comfortable with our initial fork setting, but added quite a bit more air to the shock. For more aggressive riding, 20 percent in the shock gave us more support through the travel.
Cornering: The 27.5 wheels are generally more fun in corners. The Trance was a smiling berm blaster that had us craving tight turns. The playful geometry had our test riders pushing hard into switchbacks and banked turns with a little extra speed. Giant’s new rocker arm added plenty of lateral stiffness to the chassis and helped keep the rear wheel planted when pushing hard through corners.
Climbing: We were impressed with just how well the Trance climbed. On long fire-road grinds and technical singletrack, the Trance pedaled efficiently and reacted like an XC race bike. The rear triangle was stiff and responsive with the shock in the middle setting. The overbuilt rocker arm made a big difference in the overall stiffness of the rear end and in the bike’s climbing prowess.
Braking: A trailbike is only as good as its brakes. The Shimano XT brakes had plenty of power in combination with the 180-millimeter front and rear rotors. We would have liked a little more traction out of the rear triangle under hard braking efforts, but the Trance delivered a bike that can go fast but also control speed.
Descending: The Trance comes alive when the trail points down the mountain. The sporty geometry and 27.5-inch wheel size make the bike incredibly playful and easy to flick over technical features. The rear suspension was active, absorbed big hits and kept the rear wheel planted on the trail, consistently delivering traction. Up front, the overbuilt head tube and Fox 34 fork gave us plenty of support on steep and technical sections of trail.
The 150-millimeter-travel dropper allowed plenty of clearance to lean back behind the saddle, even on steep chutes and drops. A couple of our test riders would have liked a lower front end for a more aggressive position to charge down the mountain.
TRICKS, TIPS OR UPGRADES?
The build kit on the Trance is good—really good—but we did make a few tweaks during our testing. Most of our test riders agreed that a stem with less rise and a wider set of bars would improve the handling. Our test bike came with a 32-tooth front chainring, which we spun out on almost every descent. With the larger 46-tooth in the rear for climbing, riders will be able to make the jump up to a 34-tooth in the front and not have to worry about compromising on the climbs. Maestro offers plush suspension through the travel, but more aggressive riders will want to run some air-volume spacers in the shock to get a more progressive ride.
Frame and suspension designers have been looking for that perfect mix of pedaling performance and descending prowess. The Trance Advanced 1 is on our short list of bikes that can walk this tightrope. The stock build kit packs a punch when it comes to performance, whether the trail is pointing uphill or down. This bike sits happily in the middle between DH and XC and will make nearly all trail riders stoked to ride all over the mountain. We wish they would build it in a 29er version, but that’s not the Giant way; Giant is all about the 27.5. Nevertheless, this is an awesome bike to ride the trails on, and isn’t that what mountain biking is all about?